Twelve years ago today, I shared this essay on Facebook. I originally published it on LiveJournal, which was my primary blog at the time. Enjoy!
I did a little more editing work on In The Eye of the Beholder today, both before I went to church and a little bit this afternoon after I re-watched “PS I Love You.” After services, Rev. Mike gave me my chocolate bar (a prize for correctly identifying the language into which one of MCC’s weekly reflections had been translated — Polish) and the reprint of my first entry in the Weekly Reflection series. My article was picked up by another MCC for their newsletter.
So, I’m watching “PS I Love You” this afternoon, and one of the letters Gerry sends to Holly talks about how he remembers her talking about creating something. Holly talks about how creating things shows the world something about you — something that you didn’t even perhaps know about yourself.
It seemed like all of these experiences today conspired to make me realize something: I had stopped thinking about myself as a writer. I guess I felt as though I no longer had that right after getting that rejection letter last year from the publisher. I thought I was deluding myself, you know? I had a novel — 55K plus words, with a plot and everything — but I had stopped thinking of myself as a writer.
I don’t know quite why. I started the book four years ago, during an especially dark time in my life. It took me three years to finish it. I am so proud of it — even as I go through this final batch of edits and tighten things up once and for all so that it can go up on the eBook site. But other than this blog, I had pretty much stopped writing until Rev. Mike asked me to write a weekly reflection. I used to write for a living, folks. But I stopped thinking about myself as an artist of words — I wasn’t kind enough to myself to think I had any business doing so.
The overarching theme of In The Eye of the Beholder is the importance of compassion. I also realize that it’s the overarching theme of my two favorite books of all time (The Man Who Fell to Earth, by Walter Tevis, and The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux). And yet I did not have enough compassion toward myself to recognize that I was shutting down the most creative part of me — the part of me that has, more times than I care to admit, shown me something that I didn’t know about myself.
So, here it is: I am a writer. I am an artist of words. My greatest gift is my pen (or, in this case, my keyboard) and what I make come from it. I am so very proud of myself for what I have written already, and I am grateful for finding my way back to that place.